The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: Facebook/Cops Edition

Teens and young adults are not the only people being held responsible for inappropriate postings on social networking sites. One article published in The New York Times titled, Police Lesson: Social Network Tools Have Two Edges, describes just that, the good and bad characteristics of social networking sites. On Facebook, a police officer had his occupation listed as “human waste disposal”. He was recently involved in a fatal on-duty shooting so his previous listed occupation was seen and immediately outraged people. He has since apologized and called his action “extremely inappropriate”.

There have been other incidents where police officers have gotten in trouble for posting images or comments that have no business being on Facebook. Because of these problems some departments have told officers they must have permission before posting pictures or stating comments that relate to their job as law enforcement. This annoys some because they say they cannot even post achievements and awards without first getting permission.

Some people may not be happy with these rules, but then again they are most likely not the people getting in trouble for inappropriate posts. According to the article, First Sgt. David Bursten gives officers the advice “Don’t do or say anything that you wouldn’t be proud to have your mother see or hear.” This is very good advice because comments could be taken out of context or start controversy the person may not even have intended. Chief Ray Schultz of the Albuquerque police stated social media sites are “like the bathroom wall of 20 years ago, except now the entire world can see it.” Not many things on the Internet are private which has obviously caused some problems for the police department.

I am sure this has started a love-hate relationship between the police and Facebook. Aside from these problems the police have had with their own employees, Facebook and other social networking sites have been helpful tools for them and the public. They use these sites to communicate with the public and find background information on criminals and suspects. These sites are not going anywhere anytime soon so people no matter what age or occupation should carefully select the things they post for the world to see.



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